I like the phrase used by Husna Haq from the Christian Science Monitor- “The Wild West of Self-Publishing”!
As you all know, self-publishing has opened a door to a whole new world for aspiring independent writers, but there is a dark side to this opportunity. Pornographers have slipped through the door and now book sellers are trying to walk the fine line between banning such material outright and selective censorship. One immediate outcome is that this week I tried to send a self-published book to a Kobo reader and found their store shut down. They have removed all self-published titles until they can get a handle on this problem. And apparently Amazon and Barnes and Noble are also reviewing their titles, looking for any offensive material. Of course, there are those who feel we should be able to buy and read what we want; and who balk at such censorship.
The enormous success of Fifty Shades of Grey has fueled a firestorm of copycat writers who are trying to out-shock readers and produce the next big money maker. But there is a difference between erotica and pornography; with the former having at least an element of artistry to it, while the latter is purely directed at mankind’s fouler instincts.
It is important to point out that Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and other online bookstores prohibit such vile content: Amazon, for example, states in its guidelines for self-publishing, “We don’t accept pornographic or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.” However, despite their best efforts, some of this material has apparently slipped through. As a result, all of the major booksellers are now searching their vast libraries to remove such offensive books –not an easy job but one they have assured their readers they are doing.
Needless to say, this sordid episode risks casting a shadow over the entire field of self-publishing; and threatens the good character of self-published authors whose books are worth a reader’s time and money. Hopefully, this will be a mid-course correction for the world of online book selling, and not a permanent road block to self-publishing.
So what do you think? Is censorship in this case justified? Or should consumers have the right to read whatever they choose?
Join the conversation and share your views on how this will affect self-publishing.